The motor car was described in the Futurist Manifesto as being “more beautiful than the Nike of Samothrace”, and with Balla it becomes the emblem of his victory over the difficulty of depicting speed in painting.
The mechanical movement of the car is an essential element for Giacomo Balla for depicting speed in accordance with the theoretical concepts of Futurism. If we look carefully, in this picture we can see the dominance of the sine-wave motion of the wheels of a car. In the rest of the work, the breaking down of speed takes place in a dynamic succession which starts and ends in many intersecting lines. Time, another theme dear to the Futurists, is marked by an acceleration of instants that overlap in large triangles on the surface and in depth.
In 1895, after frequenting the Accademia Albertina for a few months, Balla left Turin for Rome. In 1900, he spent six months in Paris, where he studied the techniques of impressionism and post-impressionism. After returning to Rome, he received two young painters, Boccioni and Severini, in his studio. In 1910, he signed the Manifesto tecnico della pittura futurista, but remained outside the movement until 1912, when he was present in the most important Futurist exhibitions and legendary evenings. He began composing parolibere panels and took part in the interventionist activity of the Futurist group; in 1915, with Depero he published another manifesto, La ricostruzione futurista dell’universo. During the war, Balla worked above all on design, the applied arts and fashion. In 1925, with Depero and Prampolini he represented Italy in Paris at the Exposition Internationale des Arts Décoratifs et Industriels Modernes. From the mid-1930s onwards, his links with Futurism progressively weakened, until he finally left the movement in 1937. After this date, Balla returned to figurative painting.